The Med-Dead Sea Project Frequently Asked Questions

Palmachim - Kayla Route of the Med-Dead Project



1. Why the Med-Dead Sea Project?

Aside from restoring the Dead Sea to its former condition, Israel, Jordan and the PA need more water, much more water. These water supply deficiencies are projected to increase in the future, as water in existing aquifers is being depleted by over-pumping. The water needs of the region (which includes all of the Jordan Valley, interior Jordan, and the West Bank) can easily justify the development of 3 billion cubic meters annual water supply. It would be wise to develop the project concept that gives the best hope for the future.

2. Why not simply desalinate the Med water at coastal locations and pump the desalinated water to the desired locations (Tel Aviv, Haifa, Jerusalem)?

Israel can supply its water needs along the coast by desalination along the Med (even under this approach, for environmental reasons it would need to discharge the concentrated toxic brine away from the coast). There is a cost associated with transporting water inland. The Mediterranean-Dead Sea Project would deliver needed sea water feedstock to the area where it can be desalinated and distributed at least cost. This is especially critical for Jordan, because of the long distance from Aqaba to Amman.

3. Instead of desalinating water from the Med, why not purchase water from Turkey and bring it to Israel in tankers or pipeline?

Aside from the political considerations of relying on Turkey for a vital resource, the transportation costs make this option more expensive than desalination.

4. Mediterranean-Dead Sea Project proposes to provide 5-600 million cubic meters (MCM) of desalinated water annually to the lower Jordan River in order to replace water that Israel and Jordan are removing from this stretch of the river. The Dead Sea is about 1300 ft below sea level and the Sea of Galilee is about 700 ft below sea level. Why not build a water tunnel from the Mediterranean to a location south of the Kineret and perform the desalination there?

The desalinated water could be released into the upper portion of the Jordan where it could fill the Kineret and overflow into the Lower Jordan River, be stored in miscellaneous reservoirs in the Jordan Valley, and eventually reach the Dead Sea.  Desalination at the Kineret is not feasible [unless a zero liquid discharge desalination process is utilized, but that approach is very expensive] because it would require the storage or other utilization of huge quantities of brine/minerals, which could be dealt with more efficiently at the Dead Sea.

5. Large-scale desalination continues to be a costly and problem-ridden process. Aside from the large amounts of power that are required for any desalination, it produces a large volume of concentrated brine. This brine must be stored somewhere. Even if there were sufficient reservoirs to allow the brine to evaporate, large amounts of salt would accumulate that would have to be properly disposed.

The mechanical vapor compression desalination plan we have proposed is the most energy efficient desalination method. This process can produce brine that is almost as salty as the Dead Sea, so that this forms an increasing middle layer (the Med water that is not desalinated would be the top layer), a saline gradient between the more salty Dead Sea water and the Med Sea water on top. Pumping for the mineral mining operations of Dead Sea Works and Arab Potash Co. will continue to lower the level of the Dead Sea water (about .3 meters/annum), and help maintain the saline gradient layering.


6. Once the Dead Sea fills up to the designated level, the amount of generated power would drop to relatively low levels since there would be no place to “dump” additional Med water.

Not really. Depending on (i) how much water passes the generators to create power (and released into the Dead) and (ii) when the desalination process begins (and considering that about 1 billion cubic meters will be evaporated annually from the Dead Sea and .3 billion cubic meters is evaporated annually via the mining operations), it will take many years before the Dead Sea is “filled”.

Moreover, we have proposed the development of additional desalination using wind power and other non-polluting sources such as solar panels.

7. What about the feasibility, location, and expense of the reservoir lake which is a linchpin of Med-Dead Sea Project?

Much detailed design must be done for the earthquake resistant construction of the reservoir dam. However, the expense is within the projected project cost.

8. How does the Med/Dead stack up against the Red/Dead?

Med-Dead Sea Project, compared to the Red-Dead project, is one third as long, has six times greater capacity, delivers water 100 kilometers closer to the target water market (Bethlehem, Jerusalem, Jericho, Amman, and upper Jordan valley) and will cost about the same as the proposed Red-Dead project.

Our projected costs (in Euros) are 1 billion for the tunnel, 1 billion for the hydropower plant, and 1.5 billion for the contingent infrastructures (reservoir dam, inlet channel, filtration system, water carrier from reservoir to hydropower plant, and miscellaneous). The projected income from power sales to Israel and to Jordan are about 320 million Euros annually. The project income should increase with expected increases in energy prices.

Moreover, our project does not have the environmental baggage that attaches to the Red-Dead project, including impact on the Red Sea coral, danger of contamination of fresh water aquifer along the route of the pipeline, discoloration of Dead Sea water by precipitation of gypsum, disturbance of archaeological sites, etc.

9. What about the environmental impact of the Med/Dead?

Our plan answers that concern by placing a deep layer of Med Sea Water on top of the Dead Sea. This is the only plan with sufficient flow capacity to fill the Dead Sea without wave mixing of the Red or Med water with the Dead Sea water, so ours is the only proposal that will enable desalination of water from the surface of the Dead Sea (as well as at the reservoir site).

Our plan also restores the level of the Dead Sea quickly so as to limit the damage from subsistence and erosion that is quickly degrading the Dead Sea environment. Environmental risks of boring the ten meter diameter tunnel will be minimal, because the tunnel will be deep underground, below sea level, the entire distance, and be lined and grouted so as to prevent the inflow of water from the overlying aquifer.

10. How is Med-Dead Sea Project different from the Seas Project that was considered in the 1980’s?

Some major differences are as follows:

    (a) Larger capacity, ten meter diameter compared with 7 meter diameter tunnel

    (b) Gravity flow, compared with pumping to a higher elevation, saves 20% in initial cost and operating costs

    (c) Location of natural site for head pond storage at 30 meters below sea level

    (d) Fill volume available at the Dead Sea is much greater than anticipated in the 80's

    (e) Potential for water desalination much greater; unit prices are dropping as the technology advances services to communities.